4 Ways You Can Avoid Emotional Eating During the Holidays

The holiday season is here and it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed with all the arrangements, the traveling, the inviting and the visiting of friends and families, the seasonal shopping for gifts and for food, the cleaning, the preparations and decorations, and then of course, the eating!

There’s the eating to celebrate, the eating to share sustenance with loved ones; there’s the eating for enjoyment and pleasure and there’s the eating to stuff down and avoid the unpleasant feelings of stress and anxiety that come inevitably as part of the package of fun festivities.

Sure, there’ll be laughter and enjoyment, good times and togetherness, but all this excitement can bring with it some uncomfortable feelings like apprehension, nervousness, and even uncertainty.

Not to mention all the stress that comes from all the extra chores that come with the holidays, like gift shopping in crowded malls, and planning cooking and cleaning in preparation for parties, dinners and relatives coming into town.

It’s at times like these when it’s more tempting than ever to turn to food as a source of comfort. It’s so easy when food is all around you and everywhere you look. It’s hard not to pick at the left overs or take a second piece of pie.

So what can you do to reduce that holiday stress so you don’t turn to the cookie jar or finish off that wonderful bucket of gourmet ice cream, or take that last slice of cheesecake?

  1. The first thing you can do is take a moment to breathe. Really stop everything, and just before your hand reaches the door of the refrigerator, focus instead on the cool air as it passes through your nostrils and feel your lower belly fill as you use your diaphragm to breathe in. Hold the breath in for a second and then focus on the air as you breathe it out through the nostrils, warmer now, and feel your belly cave inwards as the air goes out. Focus on this process for ten complete breaths and you will feel much calmer, your anxiety will have subsided and your cravings will have diminished in intensity.


  1. Make sure you get your daily dose of fresh air and exercise, even if it is just a walk around the block. Being at a family gathering can get very warm and stuffy and all those people breathing out carbon dioxide and using up the available oxygen can make for an atmosphere that can build up feelings of stress and cause irritability. Getting outside can help clear the head and calm the mind. It takes you away from the source of food and gets you participating in some healthy exercise.


  1. When you do eat, eat mindfully. That is, instead of zoning out and just stuffing yourself silly until you reach for the antacids and feel the waistband tightening mercilessly, eat with awareness. See the food, smell the food, and really savor the food. Focus on the food as you take a bite, the sweet or savory tastes, the unique textures, and the different colors. Enjoy the very experience of eating for pleasure. That way, you will slow your eating down, you won’t rush, you won’t eat quite so much, you won’t feel guilty about it, and you’ll taste each and every morsel. You’ll feel full sooner and you won’t be as inclined to reach for more.


  1. Be grateful. Be grateful for all the goodness you are receiving: the company of friends, the warmth, and good cheer, the wonderful food. Experts have found that being grateful increases your feelings of contentment and this in turn reduces your stress and lowers the temptation to eat for self-comfort. Finding other ways than eating to soothe yourself is healthier and more